Posted in Canada, disaster, family, health, Parenting, Recommends, school, Toronto, urbandaddyblog

March Break / COVID-19 / CoronaVirus Self-Isolation To Do List


March Break plans ruined? Travel plans cancelled? Activities for the kids also cancelled? COVID-19 has you in self-isolation? Keeping your “Social Distance”? Tired of hearing the “Corona-Time” song from Tik Tok?

If you, like everyone else, are running out of ideas for things to be because everything is closed until mid-April… What could you possibly do with the kids during an extended March Break?

Here at The Urban Daddy, we have some practical suggestions to not only keep your kids entertained, but keep you engaged, while allowing the kids to get a jump on their return to school without them knowing.

Here are our suggestions:

Reconnect with the great outdoors!

Walks, bike-riding, practicing sports, and helping around the house, digging the garden, planting flowers and raking the lawn. Get to know (Reconnect with) your neighbours. Have BBQ’s, do yoga, pick up some garbage in the community… All with lots of soap, hand sanitizer and without electronics.

Electronics – More than just for games!

While I feel that my kids are already in quarantine – they come home from school, head up to their rooms, hit the electronics and show up only for dinner. While Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, Tik Tok, YouTube and Snapchat are fun, there is only such much you can do in a day, week, month, so let’s expand the use of computers beyond entertainment, and use it for educational purposes too. Have your kids learn about SEO, how to make websites, teach them to code, while you learn to code too.

The possibilities are endless.

Computers for Education

While the teacher unions here in Ontario might think that online classes are a REALLY bad idea, thankfully they’re not teaching our children, because with schools closing for anywhere from 3-5 weeks, or for the rest of the school year, we are suddenly seeing school boards heading to online classes to salvage the rest of the school year.

It only makes sense, and from what I’ve seen, some schools just needed a couple of days to move to online classes, while other schools were already ramping up.

I’m a huge fan of online classes and courses – I did my MBA online, and in this day and age, all kids should be familiar with online classes and courses not only in case of a global pandemic, but also in case they wanted to advance themselves and take extra or additional courses.

Get a jump on the eLearning train and sign yourself and your kids up for courses. My 13-year-old is currently in grade 8, but is working on his grade 9 math credit at the same time.

I’m working on some courses towards my Google certification and my Quickbooks certification.

Catch up on Family Time – Movies & Board Games

I strongly recommend family movies – stay away from movies called Outbreak, or that deal with the end of the world. Common Sense Media, is a website that rates most TV shows, movies and video games according to age appropriateness to help parents figure out what their kids should be watching.

Some of the games that we’ve played include; Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride, Monopoly, Cards Against Humanity (not with the kids!!), Rummicube, Exploding Kittens, Risk, Trivial Pursuit, Pictionary, Carcassonne, Sushi Go, Chess, Boggle, Yatzee, just to name some more recently played.

Read Books

Nothing says getting a start on learning like developing a love of reading. Reading uses our imagination, helps us to learn new words, see proper punctuation, and spend hours doing something alone.

More importantly, in the event public libraries get shut down, there are plenty of resources available in digital format too.  eBooks, eAudioBooks, Movies, Comics, Music, Magazines and Videos. All you need is a library card!

A few years ago I introduced my eldest to the series of Dan Brown books – The Da Vinci Code, Angels and Demons, Origin, The Lost Symbol, Inferno, Digital Fortress (This one you can skip, Sorry Dan), and Deception Point. I read through those books in records time and so has he. We’re looking forward to reading the newest Dan Brown book Wild Symphony.

In addition to those books, any Star Wars book has also been a wildly popular with my readers – not just the books that the movies are based off of, but all the little series and sub-series.

Spring Cleaning

Nothing says time to re-do the bedroom – change over winter clothes to spring clothes, check sizing, and re-do parts of the house than having the time to do so. If there is a pantry that you wanted to tear apart and re-organize alphabetically, this is your chance! How about cleaning up the kids playroom and donating toys they don’t use anymore? Again, now is the time.

We’re in this for the long haul, folks, so make sure you wash your hands often, keep your hands off of your face and stay away from people if you’re under the weather. Protect yourself and that will protect others.

Posted in Parenting

Who Doesn’t Love Those Teen/Tween Years?


Who doesn’t love when our kids hit those teen / tweenage years? I certainly do not. In fact, I hate it, and it makes me feel bad that I didn’t apologize daily to my mother for likely being a know-it-all little asshole during those years.

I’ve got one child entering the Tween/teen years and one who is finally starting to find his place as a teenager.

The things that bug me the most aside from the swearing, and the smells, is the fact that by the time a child hits the age of the 13, they know every fucking thing on this planet. It’s amazing!

Forget trying to get a woman President of the US, the US needs to elect a 13-year-old. They know everything. Could you imagine a 13-year-old trying to dissuade hostile regimes like Iran, North Korea or Russia by commenting on whose rockets are bigger before breaking out into hysterics because rockets look like penises.

Sigh.

I cannot count the number of times, I have already had to correct my son when he says something looks like a “penis” or he uses the work “cock” or “pussy”. I hate that. I’ve said to him, imagine you’re at a fancy function and you meet the person of your dreams, and in the process of speaking to them, you use those words… They’re going to think you are an uneducated twit and not give you a second chance.

I’ve also explained every time that body parts have proper names, which should be used. I always found it odd to hear family members refer to a penis as a “wee wee” or “pee pee”. Sounds so babyish. That’s for a different post.

With all of that being said, here was the conversation that I had with my son halfway through our cruise that we took over the Christmas holidays on the Royal Caribean’s Oasis of the Seas. Him and I came down with something – likely brought it on board, and after sleeping away the first couple days of the cruise, we started to eat a bit, and use the gym a bit. The first day using the gym was fun, but that day after was tough! Every muscle ached, and it hurt to walk.

So I said to my son after the 3rd day of the gym, when everything didn’t ache so much; “It’s nice to wake up in the morning and not be stiff and sore from the gym.”

“Stiff?” he quickly asked.

Before I could roll my eyes, he said, “That’s what she said!”

UGH.

That’s not what she said… I don’t want my kids to grow older. I love them the way they are, but I can’t wait for this phase to end.

Posted in Parenting

Do You Carry Your Child’s Backpack? Don’t!


Do you carry your child’s backpack for them when you pick them up from school?

Don’t.

It’s not your backpack.

It’s theirs and they need to be responsible to know that they need to bring it to school, keep it’s contents safe, and then remember to bring it home with them.  If you carry it for them what message are you sending to them?

I’ll tell you.  You’re telling them that when you’re around they don’t have to carry their backpack.

Today, you’re carrying their backpack because you want to be kind. They must have had a very hard day at school, and you want to show them how much you love them, so you take their backpack and carry it to the car for them.

Tomorrow, and then next day, and the next day, your child walks out of school and hands you their backpack to carry, with a look on their face that it was a very tough day and they totally would feel better if you helped them out and carried their backpack fully of crumpled papers and a bunch of toys.

Then next thing you now it, they’re heading out of school and expecting you to carry their backpack for you.

Or worse, they’re walking away and leaving their backpack expecting you find, it and get it for them.

The entitlement creeps in, but when it arrives, it’s hard to go back on.

You’re setting a bad precedent and creating unrealistic expectations.  You’re not always going to be able or want to carry their backpacks – no matter how heavy it is or how tired they are or how hot it is outside.

Plus, kids don’t know where this kindness starts and where it ends.  Carrying the backpack today, cleaning off the table after dinner tomorrow… Next thing you know, your child will be expecting you so do things for them all the time or when they don’t want to / feel like doing it.

Do yourself a huge favour and make your kids carry their own backpacks.

Additional tips for parents who have already started carrying their kids backpacks:

When they ask why won’t you carry it, tell them it’s their backpack. When you were their age you carried your own. Others kids carry their own.

When they threaten to leave it because they don’t want to carry it – they are testing you – you have to be prepared to walk away from it and leave it there.

Setting clear expectations while they’re young will go a long way towards developing into responsible young adults.

Trust me.

Posted in Being Jewish in Toronto, Daddy, disaster, family, Life, Parenting, The Urban Daddy

July Was a Very Shitty Month!


What an absolutely shitty month, July turned out to be!

July last year was great! It was the first year that my wife and I had the pleasure of enjoying our @kidfreejuly (yes, we have that Twitter nickname) while all of our kids were enjoying PlanetArowhon. We went out for many dinners together, we tore apart the house and cleaned it from the bottom to the top culminating in a huge garage sale, and we even celebrated our wedding anniversary with our friends.

We were looking forward to more of the same this #KidFreeJuly. Very sadly, however, this July just sucked!

Kid free July began with my epic passing out routine, 45 minutes into an hour fitness class, and only got worse – I know, you’re thinking how much worse can it get than being the old dude walking out of a fitness facility accompanied by a stretcher and 2 EMT’s…

Well let me tell you!

A week after fitnessfailgate, my wife and I flew to the Big Apple, New York City, to meet our friends and enjoy a few days sightseeing, and attending a Billy Joel concert at the famed Madison Square Garden (a huge highlight for me).

We stayed in the lovely Carnegie Hotel, enjoyed a plush, comfy king bed, the snacks, and the 5pm wine and cheese. We had some fantastic meals, including one of the best meals I have ever eaten in my life at the Candle 79 Restaurant.

We walked on the High Line, then stopped in the Chelsea Market for a bite to eat when my wife’s cell phone rang. She answered, and within seconds, spun in her seat to face me – a look of shock in her face – placed her hand on my arm and said, “Oh my G-d, I’m so sorry Warren”.

My mind began to race… You see, my mother has not been well.  She was diagnosed with liver cancer a couple of months ago, and given a year, to a year and a half to live. Hearing that was extremely difficult for me. My father passed away 17-years ago, after my wife and I had been married for just a year, and my dad never got to meet his grandchildren.  Not a day goes by when I wish he could have met them and visa versa.

A year after my father died, my grandfather died. He was one of a kind. One of the kindest, sweetest men I have ever met. He was such an inspiration for me.

After losing my father and grandfather, my mother’s 2 brothers began to leave me, my wife and eventually our kids out of family functions, instead choosing to invite just my mother and sister instead.

I didn’t know what I may or may not have done, but for the longest time it really bothered me because it was a huge cause of stress for my mother and grandmother.  I tried to figure it out and resolve it. I apologized for what I thought I had done, and for what I may or may not have done, and I even asked for a face to face meeting to put all of this behind us.

They never responded. Like, ever.

They kept leaving us out, and kept expecting my sister to choose them over me and her niece and nephews.  Whatever… Everyone has family issues, right?

Getting back to that phone call, though… unbelievable.

My grandmother had passed away, just 8-days after her 96th birthday.

Born in the Ukraine, my Bubi was a true balabusta (Russian for homemaker), and to be honest, I thought she was never going to die. She lived alone right up to the end, and she was fully functional and fully operational, not like the Death Star from Star Wars. She was awesome, and for a long time, my sister and I had our grandparents to ourselves until it was finally time to share them with the other grand kids.

We used to visit all the time, help them out in their store, take care of their gardening, help around the house, and I was the only grandchild that my Bubi allowed to help with the hand washing of her dishes.

We were tight. I loved her dearly.

Even as the years progressed and as my mother’s brothers convinced her that I was the problem and they were justified in their actions, it took just one visit, or phone call for her to understand it was all crap.

I spoke to her on her birthday. She sounded great.  This loss hurt.

So after receiving the news we quickly moved to make arrangements to leave NY, get to Northern Ontario, pick up the kids from camp and attend the funeral. The only wrench in the plan would be in they planned a quick funeral.  We contacted Camp and learned that our eldest was in the middle of the wilderness on a camping trip, and while they had an emergency phone, it would only work if the trip leader called the base, at which point the could send a helicopter in to retrieve our son.

He was, however, coming back on the Sunday – just 2 days away – which meant any time Sunday in the afternoon, or Monday for the funeral would be best.

I reached out to my mothers younger brother to explain the situation, that we would need a bit of time, and it her could plan the funeral for the afternoon at the least, it would work out..

He basically said, tough shit, the funeral is planned.

I explained our intentions – my son being the oldest great grandchild, and knowing that he would really want to be there and speak at her funeral.

Again, I was told that there was no chance it was being moved.

Frantic, I offered to pay for the funeral, contact the funeral home, and let everyone know that the funeral has been moved from Sunday morning to Sunday afternoon.

He replied that it was the last he was going to talk about it, and that it was the last he was ever going to speak to me “as long as he lived”…

… okay…

He went on to say that I didn’t attend the mourning period for my grandfather (called a Shiva) and that I hadn’t visited my grandmother in the hospital.

I needed a second to comprehend what he had told me because that Shiva was 16-years-ago and also because I was at that Shiva each and every day.

Yes, I had not visited my grandmother when she was in the hospital because no one told me that she was there, but I did speak with her several times.

Frustrated like never before, I unleashed my thoughts to him in text, and in typical fashion, faced with the truth, he chose not to reply.

So my wife and I changed our flights and just made it home in time for the funeral.

My kids remained at camp, completely unaware that their great grandmother, their last great grand parent, had died.

They were going to be CRUSHED when they came home from camp and learned the news… My heart breaks for them.

During the funeral, I was a mess. I was super close with my grandmother having done so much for her before there were any other grandchildren, and recently watched as my mother and sister picked up the slack and helped her out.

My mother was unable to attend her mother’s funeral and she had been rushed to the hospital and was not doing well in her own right.  I know my mother wanted to be there, but the only bright side was that it saved her from hearing stories about how much her brothers did for my grandmother considering they had to pick up the slack only recently as my mothers health took a turn for the worse. They made themselves seems like such wonderful children…

Then, just 2 weeks after my grandmother died, my children arrived home from camp and after hearing what an amazing time they all had, I had the break the news that their great grandmother had passed away.  You could have heard a pin drop, and that silence which seemed to go on for hours was quickly shattered with the sound of crying.

My oldest was really upset. Why didn’t we come to get him? He was not happy at all knowing that my mothers brother – who cut his own 3 children and 7 grandchildren out of his life – had refused to wait half a day longer for them.

It was their great grandmother!

My kids were crushed. Devastated.

Then I had to break the news about my mother, whom the kids were REALLY close to. They loved her so much. When they saw her, or spoke to her you could see and hear the unconditional love in their emotions. The feeling was very much mutual.

We went right from the camp pickup point to the hospital to visit my mother who’s health had deteriorated to being in the 3-month to 6-month range, and we had no idea what we were about to face…

My mother was not doing well this day. She was in pain, and although I had come and spent time with her, supported my sister, over the previous 2 weeks that she was in the hospital, my mother just wanted to know when she could see the kids.

When my eldest arrived, my mother smiled for the first time in a very long time and told him how much she loved him.

Over the next hour, while being whisked from room to room and from doctor to doctor, to learn that my mother had days to live, she managed to tell all my kids that she loved them.

Later that night, she passed away.

She held on long enough for her grandchildren to return from camp, before she succumbed to her ailments and 2 weeks after the passing of her mother, she left us.

What came next makes me shake my head as I write this…

My mother would have wanted the family to mourn together for the week-long Shiva period, but that was not to be the case as her brothers decided they were going to observe their mourning period about 10 minutes away in the condo that belonged to my grandmother.

At the funeral, the youngest of my mothers brothers ignored me, my wife and my kids, instead embracing my sister while saying “I’m so sorry for your loss”.

Against the advice of the Rabbi my mother’s eldest brother announced to the attendees that he had some “issues” with my mother and that they “made peace” and that out of respect for my mother, they were sitting separately.

Absolutely disrespectful. If making peace means apologizing for 17-years of family stress by treating one of her children poorly (and his family), then one does not then continue the pattern and do exactly what my mother would not have wanted.

Then, not 5 minutes after we had buried my mother, he texted my sister and asked her to come mourn with them. Completely disregarding the fact that it’s our mother who died and that we actually had a relationship with her and didn’t cause her stress over the last 15 years with made up stories.

They never reached out to me to see how I was.

They emptied my grandmother’s condo without even asking me if there was something that I would like.

None of them – 4 adults and 6 children – contacted me in any way to offer condolence.

My eyes were open, but they have been opened even wider now.

I don’t know why they continue to put my sister in the middle of their childish stupidity.

I’ve come to realize that the opposite of love is not hate – I don’t hate anyone – but indifference.

I’m indifferent to them.

But Karma… She’s a bitch…

Posted in Canada, Community, Life, Parenting, politics, The Urban Daddy, Thursday Thirteen

Thursday Thirteen: 13 Things My Kids Have Said Or Know About Justin Trudeau


In honour of the sweeping in of a “new era” in Canadian politics with the election of a majority Liberal government led by self-proclaimed “feminist” Justin Trudeau, I asked my children for their thoughts, and now, 4-years-later, as the Federal election creeps up, I have asked them again for their thoughts about JT.

Here are the 13 things my children have said or learned during the last 3 1/2 years;

13.  He’s Just Not Ready – and he’s still not ready

12.  Justin was born on December 25th (My oldest is a late December child)

11.  He looks REALLY young, especially considering him and I are the same age!  In fact, my son thought he was 25-years-old and that my first pet was a dinosaur!

10.  The Liberals under JT are going to spend, spend, spend, and then to pay for all that spending, are going to have to raise taxes on everyone! Now our taxes are so high we’re going to have to spend less money on everything so we can afford to live in Canada.

9.   Justin walks a LOT.  In his original campaign ads he walked up a down escalator, and he walked on roads and in fields. As PM, he jogged into pictures, thus my kids have concluded that JT loves the camera, and as PM, he’ll walk everywhere where there is a camera to be seen!

8.   People really didn’t want him or Mulcair in office because both parties want to spend, spend, spend and then tax, tax, tax, but they really didn’t want Harper there even more because his hair has not moved in 10-years as Prime Minister and nobody likes that. Trudeau was the only choice because he’s young so he’ll be able to use computers better and he knows what Millennial are.

7.    As soon as JT tells the United States that Canada is not going to fight ISIS, the US is no longer going to protect Canada.

6.   Also, since Canada wants to find out why ISIS are so angry, it means more ISIS members are going to come to Canada and hide here.  JT said he would not revoke their citizenship, so they are safe.

5.   He taught drama, and now he’ll be bringing the drama to the rest of the world. He won’t give boring speeches, because of his background, he’ll be able to act a bit, use different voices, and be dramatic. In fact, the kids wanted to know how it would look in Question Period – so I showed them a session from last week… They were extremely unimpressed when he refused to answer any questions yet pranced around like he was on stage in a play. (I believe my son said, “once a drama teacher, always a drama teacher”).

4.   I love my children, when they are able to conclude this; “It’s only 4-years, then we can elect a Conservative government to fix everything the Liberals screw up.”

3.   He should not be allowed to speak without having a speech writer because when he has to think on the fly he pauses a lot to think of what the right thing to say is, and that makes him look dumb.  So that makes Canada look dumb. He has said “um” more times in the last few minutes than I have said in my entire life.

2.   This was a great comment too; “Dad, if he considers himself to be a feminist, doesn’t that mean he “likes” women? If so, why did he force that lawyer to lie, and then when she refused, he threw her under the bus and kicked her out of his party? That’s not how you treat your team members, especially the women…”

and number 1.  Do you know how to tell when Justin Trudeau is lying? He opens his mouth. I don’t trust that guy at all.  He never learned. He fired women, he increased taxes, lied, and the only thing he did was legalize pot. That’s not such a great accomplishment…